Should you tell a friend they're being cheated on? | The Tylt
It's an impossible situation. After discovering a friend's significant other is cheating on them, some believe the next step should be sharing this information with the friend in question without hesitation. Others are a bit more trepidatious, arguing this kind of information is not yours to share. According to this camp, someone's relationship is there business, and no one should interfere. But some argue sharing your knowledge is the ethical thing to do. What do you think?
Should you tell a friend they're being cheated on?
If you are familiar with the boundaries of your friend's relationship (meaning you have an understanding that they are exclusive with their partner), and discover they are being cheated on, you should absolutely share the information. Insider's Brittany Vincent advises delivering the news face-to-face.
Opt out of sending a text, email, or calling him or her up. This is news that needs to be shared in person. Then, once you've done the deed, make sure you give them the space they need and deserve while also making it clear you're here for them if they need it.
Consider what you would want if you were in your friend's shoes. No matter how you spin it, this friend is being lied to by their partner. The last thing they need is to have a close friend withholding important information at the same time.
Others argue that you should absolutely keep this kind of information to yourself. Your friend's relationship is a between them and their partner, and how they handle problems, deceit and boundaries is none of your business. Psychology Today's Mark D. White writes:
But on the other hand, telling our friend would likely hurt him or her in some way. Even if we believe that our friend is being hurt by adultery he or she is unaware of, that hurt is not our fault—but we would be directly hurting him or her by revealing the truth, and we don't want to cause (further) harm to our friend (or other people involved, such as children).
Everyone wants to do what is best for their friends, and is causing further pain really the answer?
But as Insider's Vincent points out, keeping this kind of information to yourself could cause far more hurt than sharing it.
The hurt they'll experience from your interference would likely be minimal compared to having to find out for themselves or living blissfully unaware of the secrecy going on behind their back.
You should do your friend a favor by doing what their partner is not: telling the truth. There can still be boundaries to the conversation, such as avoiding judgement about what your friend decides to do with the information, but it is important that it happens. Style Caster refers to sex educator and author Wendy Strgar on the topic. Strgar reminders readers to stick to the facts:
“Give the basic information you know—the time, place, person, and evidence you have, and say you’re there for [them] if you can support [them],” says Strgar. “Tell [them] you trust [them] to make the right choice for [themselves] but you feel like it’s the kind of thing that if it was reversed, you’d hope [they'd] tell you.”
Some worry that the friend might misplace hurt and blame on the messenger. There's no reason to risk a friendship to share something that is none of your business. Pop Sugar's Isadora Baum refers to relationship expert David Bennet on the subject. When asked how to proceed if said friend seems very happy in their relationship, Bennet says it may be better to hold off:
"The truth is that a lot of people go back to the person who cheated on them and forgive them. They end up placing blame not on the cheater, but on you, the friend who exposed it all," Bennett said.
At the end of the day, Bennet advises doing what feels right, but he warns: proceed with caution when it comes to interfering with someone else's matters of the heart.
"I would be very cautious about getting involved in something as complicated as this," said Bennett. "The reality is that people often don't believe someone is cheating even when the evidence is clear because love gets in the way," he said, and this can leave you, the one bringing it up, to blame. "Also, many people may feel embarrassed that they are being cheated on and may be tempted to enter a state of strong denial rather than believe you," he said.